Yesterday I went to the funeral of my Godmother, Lucinda. During the eulogy to this larger-than-life character, her eldest son recounted their family holidays (two parents and five children in an early camper-van). At that moment I remembered one of our family holidays, in the early seventies, when we borrowed their family’s canvas two-man canoe called ‘Lucinda’, leading the police to tell my family that I was probably dead…
Every day my father drove us a little further from the campsite to paddle back on the Dordogne river in France. This was fine until one day he chose to look at a map of France rather than one of the locality. My brother and I were dropped off, in glorious weather, dressed just in swimming trunks with a towel each, to paddle back to the site. By tea-time, when we should have seen familiar landmarks for some time, we were still paddling along merrily! By around midnight, my brother decided to abandon ship to seek help. By daybreak, after a lonely night of thunder, lightning, high cliffs and fast-flowing rapids where I could feel the scrape of rocks through the canvas, I reached a town I remembered – Sarlat. I arrived back at the campsite in time for a very late breakfast. My brother had returned early in the morning, the police had been called and declared with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders; “Il est mort!” (he is dead!) My mother, ever the pragmatist, shrugged her shoulders and said (of me, her revolting and unruly teenage son) “if he’s dead, he’s dead!” Needless to say I have avoided canoes ever since.
In memory of my Godmother Lucinda, to whom I owe so much: ‘If there’s another world she lives in bliss, if not she made the most of this’ (R Burns)
I wish you all a safe and enjoyable weekend and avoid those rapids!
© Baldock Bard 2016
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